“Don Angier’s Yanagi Ryu ….. real koryu or not? ” from

“First of all a school cannot be a member of the Nippon Kobudo Kyokai or the Nippon Kobudo Shinkokai if the headquarters is located outside Japan. So, Shidare Yanagi ryu would not qualify for membership even if it were confirmed to be authentic koryu.

That said, Shidare Yanagi ryu’s status as koryu is similar to Daito ryu’s and unknown since no hard documentation exists to confirm its existence prior to the Meiji Restoration. According to Don Angier, Shidare Yanagi ryu was a small familial budo tradition passed to him by Yoshida Kenji, son of the rather enigmatic Yoshida Kotaro. What is fairly certain is Don Angier studied something under Yoshida Kenji since Don Angier has Yoshida family photos in his possession that no one else has seen before, including aikido/budo historian Stan Pranin. Furthermore, Daito ryu’s Katsuykui Kondo, a student of Yoshida Kotaro, confirmed to me in person that Kotaro did have several densho in his possesion reflecting significant martial study prior to his training under Takeda Sokaku.

FWIW, I was present in Japan in 1994 when Don Angier visited Katsuyuki Kondo, Stan Pranin and Meik & Diane Skoss (of At that time Meik Skoss told me he was aware of an earlier meeting between Don Angier and Shindo Muso ryu’s Kaminoda sensei where he and Don compared hojojutsu waza over several old densho at Kaminoda’s dojo. According to Meik this meeting was observed by many of Kaminoda’s students to be a two way exchange of information between these men.

So what is Shidare Yanagi ryu and what are its roots? That’s a good question. Curiously, there is a school recognized by the Nippon Kodudo Kyokai called Shingetsu Muso Yanagi ryu jujutsu. Interestingly this school’s curriculum includes kata employing a long handled daito similar to that used in Shidare Yanagi ryu aikijujutsu. Another possibility concerns a technical connection between Shidare Yanagi ryu and one of the many streams of Yoshin ryu. Since Yanagi and Yoshin both refer to a willow tree, such a connection at some point in the past is not that far fetched.”

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  1. The whole conversation is worthwhile. One of the tradeoffs in Japanese two-handed sword is a certain obstruction of vision in the course of strikes. It is used to advantage in aikido sword taking. Of course, the advantage is power and some speed. If the attack reaches the target, the two handed technique taps the power of the whole body much more effectively than one-handed.

  2. As a traditional Aiki student fighting in a modern world, Ive seen many systems and techniques that just did not pass the gauntlet. But the principals of Aiki, wheather Koryu or not, are unsurpassed. The pricipals can be incorporated into any system and are timeless.
    As a law enforcement officer I have been in many altercations, involving many weapons and on differnet terrains. I had the good fortune to have several years of Aiki-Budo training in my arsenal prior to entering my chosen field. I can say I fare much better than most of my fellow officers in close combat situations because of it. I have always bee chosen to accompany any officers in route to apprehend a dangerous suspect, when given the option. And to accompany the Narcotics entry team on warrant service, simply because I am a little more efficient in my appication of arrest tactics.
    I am not trying to brag, I am simply trying to influence the “Brass” of law enforcement to look deeper into this.

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